Home » Writing » Oh, how cliche… I love it!

Oh, how cliche… I love it!

Photo by Tom Newby on Flickr

Photo by Tom Newby on Flickr

I know when I read about two characters kissing in the rain I should go, ‘Oh, that is sooo cliché!

But, deep down, I squeal a little bit and melt at the idea 😀

Clichés, I think, resonate with people, hence their overuse. They tend to be something that pulls the most emotion from someone, or gains the best reaction.

I have to admit, I tend to stay away from clichés in my books, and I think that is just because of all the years of having it drummed into me that they are bad and you should never use them.

Which I can understand, I mean, you don’t want to be using the same story telling points as everyone else.

But, having said that, I don’t see the problem in dropping one in occasionally, especially if you can take a unique approach on it and give it a bit of spice with some originality.

For example, I am desperate to one day write the ballroom cliché scene. That scene where the girl turns up at a ball and is in a fabulous gown and the guy turns up to see her at the top of the stairs and is wowed by her.

Those scenes melt me into a puddle and I love them every time 😀 Possibly a left over from my childhood dreaming of being Cinderella!

But I want to add something exciting to the scene, make it feel fresh. Something that leaves readers excited by it, not bored by the fact it’s another one of those scenes.

My take on using clichés is it’s all good as long as you can make people forget it’s a cliché by adding something fresh to it. It’s always nice when writers take hold of something so well-used and give it new life!

But I understand and am wary of clichés being boring and readers being turned off by that. So, I will have to make sure if I ever do get to write that scene, it leaves them as wowed as though they were that guy at the bottom of the staircase!

How do you feel about clichés? Are there any clichés that you love and/or would like to try and write? Are there any clichés that drive you nuts because of their overuse?

Progress Report

Status of fourth manuscript: Third draft edits (I know, I’m behind!)

Books read: 1/4

July eBook Review: Written and ready.

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50 thoughts on “Oh, how cliche… I love it!

  1. I’ve become neutral on cliches. I use some when they’re appropriate because they fit. Some people are so obsessed with originality that everything is a cliche, which means you’ll never satisfy them. Others don’t even realize they’re looking at a cliche because it’s new to them. If I had never read a fantasy book before then the tropes of the genre would be amazing to me. Meanwhile someone who only reads fantasy would groan at ‘another dragon’. So I guess one person’s cliche is another person’s new experience.

  2. Great post! I feel much the same as you. Bog-standard cliches can seem a little stale but if a writer can take something familiar and put an interesting twist on it then I think it can be really effective 🙂

    • It also makes me respect an author more when they manage to make it seem fresh. You can tell they know what they’re doing when they can pull off turning something stale into something fresh and new 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  3. I think if you can put a fresh slant on them then you’ve surprised the reader. And knowing how seriously you take your writing I know you’d do that so it does no harm to bend the rules. xx

    • You’re completely right, it’s that fresh take on them that gives them their interest 🙂

      And thank you so much for the compliment 😀 I do take my writing seriously, to the annoyance of my family and friends who have to suffer whilst I drone on and on about it!

  4. I like some cliches, because as you mentioned, they resonate with people. But some (like the final battle between the hero and villain in the rain) drive me crazy! I prefer the romance cliches over the action movie cliches. I like the run-to-meet-each-other-after-being-separated-for-a-long-time cliche.

    • Yeah, action movie clichés can be rather drab, I think that tends to be because there’s no real way of spicing it up or making them different 😀

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting 🙂

  5. For the most part I try to avoid cliches, but I’m impressed when I see one used with a fresh spin. Like you, I love the ballroom cliche (probably my favorite) and rarely get tired of seeing that used. Hopefully, you’ll write that scene one day! 🙂

    • I do love that scene, and every time I read or see it used, I am always inspired to write it and try and give it my unique twist 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  6. I’m indifferent to cliche. If you use one, do it well. There are too many people out there who can’t wait to call someone else’s writing cliche. Those readers aren’t reading for pleasure, and the concept is probably foreign to them anyway.

    • True, as a reader I do tend to just read and enjoy a story rather than read it to pick out faults. Stories are meant to be enjoyed 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  7. I think your take on them is definitely a solid one: if you’re using a cliche, try to give it at least a little bit of something new or yourself into it. For myself, I think it’s all a matter of the tone of the piece. I love a good tongue-in-cheek cliche where the author knows it’s a cliche, and they’re playing it up as a wink and a nod (she says, filling her statement with cliches, lol). It’s also nice to see authors turn a cliche on its ear a little bit, too, warping it into something interesting or funny. In more “serious” pieces, though, I try to avoid them, as they would only disrupt the tone and take a person out of the story if used.

    • I also enjoy when authors do that, knowing it’s a cliché but having a bit of fun with it all the same 😀

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting 🙂

  8. Cliche to me are like stereotypes. They got that way for a reason. Everybody can relate to them. That’s what we readers are trying to do; relate to a large audience. I use them sparingly in most of my writing, but they have their place.

    • You’re right, they definitely do have their place. Sometimes a cliché just has to be used because it just fits too perfectly not too 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  9. A cunningly used cliche can be gold! After all, there hasn’t been any truly original story idea since Homer. I think it’s how we dress them up that counts…

  10. I love that you bring up this topic! I never paid attention to what other considered ‘cliche’ until I started writing. Like you, my heart melts a bit when I stumble across romance cliches. But I agree with Charles. What is cliche for one reader will be a totally new experience for another. To my point, you mention couples kissing in the rain as one of those scenes. Well, I’m a black woman and to be honest, kissing in the rain would only leave my hair looking like Buckwheat from The Little Rascals. So as a teen, the only thing I wanted to do in the rain was get out of it. So, reading these types of scenes is cool to me. I can’t relate to those characters at all, but I love that. Learning different perspectives and even what others find appealing is one of the reasons I enjoy reading. We live in a world full of cliches and stereotypes. Writing doesn’t have to break ever cliche or stereotype to be valuable. Just pour your heart into the story you’re writing. That truth will resonate and with readers!

    Great post! 🙂

    • A brilliant point 😀 And a great response! Some readers might connect more with certain clichés, where as others wouldn’t. It’s all about the personal choice of the reader, and trying to find a middle ground for what works for most people.

      But you’re right, if you give your all to a story, that is what is most important.

      Thank you for your comment 🙂

  11. The ballroom cliché is overdone sometimes, however, I recently read a book where it was used, and I LOVED IT! ( The Glass Throne Series ).

    Cliché’s have to be used sometimes to get a point across, but … they can also be done in a way that isn’t “overly cliché”. I don’t know if that makes sense or not, but basically I’m saying that it can be done without making it look like it is a cliché.

    • Don’t make the cliché too cliché? 😀 Nah, I get exactly what you mean. Kind of like using the cliché as a skeleton and fleshing it with your own idea around it.

      Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  12. You make a really good point here. I think you’re right that it’s possible to use a cliché as long as you do it in a different way. And I’ve read so many books, particularly romances, that are full of clichés, but they’re SO good I simply don’t mind.

    • I know what you mean, I think romance clichés can get away with it a bit more, as there are so many situations to throw your heroine and hero into 😀

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  13. To me, cliches only bother me if it’s obvious the author just put them in because it’s “what’s supposed to happen.” If something happens and it’s true for the characters and it happens to also be a cliche, then whatever. If it’s not true for the characters, the audience can feel that, I think.

  14. I actually like the idea you stated on using cliches but adding your own spin to them–I think that would be a good idea. For me, I really do not mind cliches, it all depends on the story and how well they are woven into the story. Similar to you, I started to avoid them in my current stories because I was criticized once for using a cliche in one of my earlier stories–I was told the story sounded fake 😦

    • I know how much criticism can hit you and it definitely shakes me from trying whatever it is that they didn’t like in future stories. But then, what one person likes another person will love. I think sticking true to how you write and what you want in your stories is what will make your books even better!

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

      • I definitely agree–if you don’t stay true to your work, success will be impossible 🙂

  15. I wrote a short story once that used cliches to get the point across about cliches (if you know what I mean). It was really popular except for one reader who said, ‘this story has too many cliches in it!) LOL – I guess they totally missed the point! 😉

    • I do like that tongue in cheek thing that some authors can pull off! 😀 I’ve never attempted it myself, but it’s always great fun to read!

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  16. Not every thing that’s repeated across a genre is a cliche. It only hits that point when it becomes worn out and over done to the point that most readers will be bored or frustrated with it simply because they’ve seen it so many times before. And yeah, that’s a different point for each reader. In any case, if you can do something new or interesting with such a common thread, then that’s not falling into the repetition that annoys people, and is therefore not a cliche.

    • Very true, they say there are only a handful of stories in the world and people are just repeating them anyway. I guess it’s just how the author can take an idea and make it stand out 😀

  17. Another great post, been a hectic summer so far – I have missed reading up on your posts, so I am attempting to catch up lol. “Cliche” definitely has a bad rep – and I agree with what someone else said about how some people call them out too much. I like the thought that in crossing genres, a cliche to one person would be undetected by another. In my genre cliches are quite common, and some are quite stale, but there are still those “damsel in distress” scenes, you know the ones – where your insides turn to Jello. And then the cowboy mounts his horse and rides off into the sunset. Good stuff! It’s all about finding that happy medium I suppose, and cloaking a cliche in your own originality. Much as we would love to, there is just no pleasing everybody. Just as there was always someone screaming “Witch!” in Salem, there will always be somebody yelling “Cliche! Cliche!” and pointing fingers.

  18. Very good points. I dont mind a good cliche but some just get way over done. I dont think ive picked up a book lately where one perosn throws another against a wall or door and pulls there hands over there heads and growls leave them there.. yes its hot but make it fresh. But as you mentioned the ballroom cliche… I guess ill never tire of that ( Cinderella complex here too LOL> Great blog post.

    • Yeah, some clichés work well, but they need to have something fresh about them 😀 No matter how well they work on their own!

      Glad you enjoyed the post! Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  19. If you write in a character-driven way, I think it’s easier to avoid cliches and make them fresh when you do use them, because you’re writing in a way that’s authentic to the characters. You can get away with a lot more, I think, if it’s true to the characters.

    • Good point, my stories do tend to be character driven so it’s easier to avoid a lot of the normal clichés. But when something feels right for the character, I think the reader enjoys it for that, even if it’s cliché!

      Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂

  20. It’s a tough one because when you’re a romantic at heart, the things that work best are often labelled a cliché. But adding your own twist, and exploring a scene from the unique perspective of your characters is bound to hold a readers attention and make them sigh at the beauty of it all 🙂

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